Embracing a circular economy in regional NSW

Mar 13, 2020

Caption: Speakers at the event

Circular economy practices and a desire to be more sustainable and boost local supply chains were on display at Goulburn recently at a regional event jointly hosted by NSW Circular and two Federal Government funded organisations, Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) and Regional Development Australia, Southern Inland.

Over 60 representatives from Goulburn and regional businesses, groups and community organisations attended the event to learn more about how do adopt circular practices and share examples of treating waste and unwanted items destined for landfill as materials that have a value via recycling, reuse and reforming into new supply chain feedstock.

Keynote speak, NSW Circular Director and UNSW Professor Veena Sahajwalla, spoke about the opportunity to businesses of “being circular” and looking at how one person’s unwanted items can be another’s essential feedstock for manufacturing, as demonstrated by a number of local case studies where waste was the basis of new products and services.

Veena also spoke about her ground-breaking microrecycling science that has led to the development of Microfactorie technology able to reform complex and ‘contaminated’ waste plastic into filament for 3D printing, and waste plastics, glass and other common waste streams into ceramic style building products.

New opportunities

“The NSW Circular Innovation Network has shown us there are ideas out there and that through events like these that we need to work together to capitalise on the opportunities to create a new ecosystem,” she told the crowd.

“We effectively need new supply chains, and localised ones, and for them to be vertically integrated to enable greater sharing and shifting of resources to meet industry and ultimately community needs.

“We need a collective energy to be more sustainable across society and converting waste or unwanted materials into value-added products, feedstock and materials must be the way forward.”

Event host AMGC’s National Director, Industry, Michael Sharpe, said on the sidelines that these events to promote a circular economy were important for the growing manufacturing sector, particularly in the regions.

Waste as a resource

“This really is manufacturing’s moment in Australia and having the opportunity to have Veena to share her knowledge and explain why the circular economy matters is valuable to our members and businesses more broadly,” he said.

“Imagine if we could use so much more waste as a resource and new and existing technology. There is a digital transformation happening right now in manufacturing and using waste as a resource as Veena and others have demonstrated means we can add value into our current products and systems.”

The event heard case studies and examples of using waste as a resource, and these will appear in a new ‘Case Studies’ page on this website soon.

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